Telley Anthony is following the footsteps of his father and grandfather who became restaurateurs. Anthony is vice present of the This Is It restaurant franchise. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)
MORROW — The aromas change as entrees and sides are taken off the grill or pulled from the oven. Stand in the olive green-colored restaurant a few minutes and the smell of corn bread fades into yams.
Patrons march through the buffet lines as diners sit and eat in the glow emitted from brass chandeliers at This Is It! restaurant. The eatery opened this week at 1497 Mt. Zion Road in Morrow.
The Southlake establishment is the ninth such franchise to open in metro Atlanta, and it is expected to be the highest-performing.
This Is It! Vice President Telley Anthony said the restaurant has grown in the past few years. He said operators garnered so much business at the Camp Creek Parkway location a few years ago, they had to open another on the other side of the thoroughfare. The Southlake location, he expects, will rival that business.
Anthony is a third-generation restaurateur. His grandfather Shelley Anthony II opened his first restaurant in 1951 in Tampa, Fla. His father, Shelley “Butch” Anthony III, followed suit in opening his Decatur restaurant in 1976.
Over the years, the family has cultivated a barbecue menu more reminiscent of a hefty Sunday supper or a Thanksgiving dinner than its lunch favorites char-grilled wings and fried or grilled chicken.
“Food is food, but this is it,” said Anthony. “We have a very complex menu. Anybody can eat here.”
Bread dressing, collard greens, potato salad, green beans, cole slaw, potato souffle, steamed cabbage and macaroni and cheese complement the restaurant’s main proteins — smoked turkey and char-grilled ham and rib tips. The restaurant also sells Tilapia and roasted chicken with corn muffins and sweet potato pie.
Patrons have their choice of daily offerings in a protein, two sides and bread for about $7, and the menu ranges up from there.
“We consider ourselves a fast, casual cafeteria,” said Anthony, adding the restaurant occasionally offers chitterlings, oxtail and peach cobbler.
The restaurant, which seats about 60 in 15 tables, also offers catering for up to 3,000 diners.
Jonesboro resident Teresa Talley said she has traveled for the past two years to the Fayetteville location on Pavilion Parkway for her favorite beef tips. She said she makes the 30-minute journey about three times a month.
“I like friendliness of the people, the food and the nice-sized portions — and that makes a big difference,” said Talley.
She and others were well-received at the Southlake location Tuesday.
“Hello, hello. Welcome to the show,” greeted the staff. The words are bellowed each time a member of the This Is It! crew learns there is a new customer in the building.
This Is It! operators offered free meals to potential patrons during Tuesday’s soft opening.
Members of the Association of Christian Ministers of Clayton County were on hand to honor This Is It! for its work in the community as a Christ-centered business.
Association members Kay and Harry Riley are pastors at Lakewin Christian Center in Riverdale. They joined other members in presenting Anthony and his father Anthony III with a certificate of appreciation.
This Is It! employs 35 people, including 20 full-time positions. The restaurant is offering a 15 percent off discount on entrees purchases of $8 or more to faculty, staff and students at Clayton State University and Strayer University; to City of Morrow employees; and to military personnel with ID.
Restaurant hours are available at www.thisisitbbq.com. The store is closed Sundays.